Midnight Oil

[Powderworks] Why I called that post 'garbage'...

Hunter S. Magellan aldean@du.edu
Wed, 19 Sep 2001 15:23:27 -0600

First, I admit I should have been more diplomatic.  I never meant
anything personal by it - just that I found the piece devoid of any
supporting evidence and making an argument which I feel will hurt the
cause of global justice if taken seriously.  It's writing like this
which provoked Timothy McVeigh into our formerly most-famous bit of
American terrorism.  All the same, I apologize to Todd.  We're all
complex people, and I'll promise not to assume too much about your
personal beliefs (which I don't automatically equate with your forwarded
piece) if you'll do me the same service.

If any of are interested to read why I feel the way I do, it follows. 
If not, sorry to make you read this far, the <DELETE> key beckons you at
this point.  It's all strongly worded, but I do accept that this is my
opinion and make no claims to any absolute truth.  It's an argument I've
put a lot of thought and energy into in the last 24 hrs, and not a
personal attack, and I hope it will be viewed in that way.

I am no fan of corporate media, or of many US government policies.  My
dispute is with the idea all the problems I see are somehow being
coordinated from some central source.  I bet we agree on a lot more than
we disagree, but here's why I disagreed so strongly with your forward.

It has been my experience that power in government (and elsewhere) is
wielded by those who participate.  Combining energy, time, talent, and
money makes for political power.  (I'll be the first to say money is too
much a part of this equation and that must be changed, but I dispute the
idea that we live in some un-free sham of a democracy where only a few
puppetmasters really make any decisions.)  I don't think elaborate
conspiracy theories are necessary to explain most of the evil I see in
the world.  We are all capable of doing evil when we fail to consider
the consequences of our actions.  Complex situations (both good and
evil, and usually both simultaneously) can and do arise out of many
interrelated and seemingly simple decisions.  In fact, it is usually the
sheer complexity of the plots elaborated by 'conspiracy theorists' which
make them so implausible.  (If 'the government' blew up the WTC and the
Pentagon, 1000's of people would have to know about it or find evidence
it - all of whom would  have to suppress what they know.)  There are
more logical answers which better account for the facts.

The article states "This American
tragedy, in other words, plays directly into the hands of the corporate
and military elite of this nation, who have for years been
propagandizing for a more belligerent and imperialistic foreign policy
and for more repressive legislation here on the home front."  While I
agree with this, I totally disagree with his theory as to the motives
for this foreign and domestic policy agenda.  The mistake is seeing
these forces, corporate and military, as
some kind of monolithic power instead of the myriad interests and
agendas they are.  Believing in an all-powerful foe who seeks to destroy
freedom and justice breeds cynicism and extremism when our needs are
participation and organizing.

So that's my ideological beef with the guy.  Beyond that, his argument
is paper-thin and based on nothing more than innuendo and accusation.

He says "The first step in solving any crime is to look at who
had a motive and who had the means and opportunity to commit the
crime."  While this is valid, his arguement about motive is completely
circular.  He already believes 'the government' is out to do things like
this, and therefore they had the motive.  It's nothing more than an
opinion, and is unsupported by any evidence.  

He further elaborates the supposed motive by saying "Big Brother has
assured us that we will be protected from future acts of this sort, and
we will welcome with open arms the repressive, overtly fascistic
'reforms' that will be enacted."  In this little bit of hyperbole I
think he clearly exposes his reactionary bias and, in my view, destroys
most of his claim to credibility.  We have to stay vigilant, that is
true, but if anything I'd say most people in the US are too obsessed
with individual rights already - and we too easily ignore our collective
responsibilities both in this country and abroad.  All of this stems
from Enlightenment rationalism and notions of indiviual autonomy which I
also happen to strongly disagree with - but I'll save that for another

"The CIA [and etc]... constitutes the largest and most insidious
intelligence network the world has ever seen. Its agents have fully
infiltrated every foreign government on the planet, as well as every
'terrorist' group and every domestic resistance movement..."  Again,
this argument is totally circular.  'The government' is assumed to be
all-knowing, and therefore knew this attack was coming, and is therefore
responsible for failing to prevent it.  Think about this - the only way
to know that
'the government' has penetrated every government and terrorist
organization is to yourself have complete knowledge of these governments
and organizations.  The author makes no claim to have this knowledge -
his assertion is again based on nothing more than assumption (or, to be
generous, unprovided evidence which would have to volumes thick to
substantiate such a claim).

And so who actually caused this attack?  This is the most preposterous
part of the whole piece.  Here's what is provided as proof - "These
secondary blasts were acknowledged early in the day by an NBC newsman."
and "A radio broadcaster on WLS in Chicago (according to a
correspondent), whose wife is a CBS journalist who was on the scene at
the towers, said on the air that his wife had witnessed an enormous
fireball emanating from beneath one of the towers..."  That's it.  An
unnamed reporter and some guy who heard something from some his wife  -
no names, no way to verify what he's claiming.  Indeed, the very fact
that they aren't better covered is claimed as evidence that it happened,
as is so often the case with these kind of theories.  On these grounds,
the premise of 'The Matrix' could also be proven to be true.  (Hey,
maybe it is, but what I mean is in the absence of evidence why SHOULD I
believe it?)

I was watching the TV, and I saw both towers go down, and my VCR was
rolling - they collapsed from the top down.  The lower floors didn't go
anywhere until the floors above crushed them - if this had been caused
by explosions in the foundation, the whole tower would have gone down as
one.  Not only is this again based on no evidence,  this time I'll even
claim to have verifiable evidence to the contrary.

The liklihood of a covert operation being blown is proportional to the
number of people who know about it.  There is simply no way that the
number of people required to make this happen and then cover it up
(airlines - if the planes weren't really hijacked, the people who made
cell phone calls from the hijacked planes, all the fire dept and police
and FBI investigators who will inevitably find evidence of these
supposed other bombs if they exist) could keep from leaking anything.

I am against many policies of the US Govt, but it's a mistake to assume
that all bad policies have some evil puppetmaster behind them.  Good
people do evil things when they fail to care about or fully consider the
consequences of their actions, and I think this is a much more
reasonable explanation of many things which we've done wrong.  We act
out of paranoia and fear (of communisim, the supposed 'end of our way of
life'), we are often xenophobic and consider 'foreigners' people who
only exist on TV and are easily discounted, and so on... but none of
that points to some diabolical conspiracy at the top.  It's just the
same kind of overly simplistic good versus evil dualism which Bush is
also appealing to as he tries to drum up support for massive

There is an alternative.  Activism, and making positive political
change, begins (or should begin)
with local grassroots organizing.  It takes a long time and a lot of
boring tedious work to effect something like a change in a local
school-board policy.  And if you want to take on national issues, it
takes even more work and organizing.  But I am convinced that the basic
democratic processes still do function in this country, as much as many
interest groups have manipulated them (through gerrymandering of
district boundaries, obscure campaign-finance laws which allow obscene
contributions, and connections between lobbyists and lawmakers which
create horrendous conflicts of interest).  When you really try to make
something happen, and so many agendas collide, and it becomes hard to
tell who is on who's side (and how many sides there are), you've entered
the mess which is at the heart of a functioning democracy.  It's not
usually fun, but it's the best humanity has ever produced.

If you want to change how things are done - not just 'choose between
interchangeable candidates' - do something like help organize a chapter
of the Green party...  It won't get you what you want right away, but it
will make a difference.  Nobody gets everything they want from
government, be it missile defense or greater civil rights.  Sometimes
this is due to dirty politics, but that article fails to consider the
possibility that sometimes it's due to genuine disagreements between
sincere people as well.  I myself am a raging liberal Nader-voter, but I
refuse to believe that members of the Christian Coalition (or whomever
else I disagree with) are the spawn of the devil and I'd be better off
without them.  We argue, we fight, and then we vote, that's the way it
works.  And I do believe that it does work.  It all depends on who's
active and involved, and pieces like that one attempt to heighten
cynicism and apathy, to the detriment of us all.

If his point is increased vigilance against excessive militarism, then
I'm all for it.  If the solution he's after is some violent revolution
against the US government, I'm totally opposed.  It will kill more
people than it helps, and is totally unnecessary.  It's comforting to
blame all the perceived ills of the world on a single evil, be it Osama
bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Mumar Khaddafi, Richard Nixon, 'the
government', 'the Jews', or whatever, but that's just too simple to be
convincing to me.  The causes and effects of this tragedy, like most
others, go much deeper than that.

best regards,
alex dean from Denver